GUIDE TO THE RIVER KENNET
Blakes Weir, River Kennet.
Located 35 miles west of Central London, just to the east of Reading Town Centre, just before the River Kennet joins the Thames.
Small weir on the River Kennet that produces a small chute of water with a sharp eddy line.
Blakes Weir has been a popular training ground for local paddlers, including members of Reading University' canoe club and local scouts.
Water levels required
Blakes produces moving water at most water levels, although is usually closed in the middle of Summer.
Gauge and levels information
Directions and parking
From the M4- turn off the M4 at junction 10 following the signs for Reading and the A329(M). Stay on the A329(M), following the signs for Thames Valley Park- don't turn off for Reading. After 3 miles you descend from an overpass to arrive at a roundabout. Go round the roundabout to head right then take the first left. You will arrive at the new boathouse that is the home of Wokingham CC (amongst others). You will see the River Thames straight ahead of you- paddle upstream, turning left after 600 yds into the Kennet. Blakes Weir is 800 yds further upstream on the right. It is possible to get closer to the weir by car but access (and navigation) is difficult.
Looking upstream, to the left, there is Blakes Lock, then an island, followed by the weir. The chute of water is to the right, immediately next to a wall, which creates a sharp eddy line, which is good for tail squirts and eddy line cartwheels.
The new boathouse is an excellent new facility and the clubs based there come highly recommended- this is a great place to get started in the sport. There is also a hardcore of serious sprint and marathon paddlers based at the Centre. The Centre is also the home of Marsport, the canoe shop, which has moved to the Centre from its long time base at Cemetery Junction. Paul Ralph of Marsport specialises in Sprint and marathon boats but also stocks a full range of white water equipment. The shop and Centre hold open days from time to time.
Upstream on the Thames, 1 mile from the Centre, at Caversham Weir, Reading Canoe Club have set up slalom poles on river left, on moving water. The venue is well within paddling range of both Wokingham and Reading Canoe Clubs. Please bear in mind however, that Caversham Weir itself is dangerous and to be avoided.
Next to Blakes Weir, on the northern side of the river, is Blakes Museum. The museum chronicles the history of the River Thames and is well worth a visit although sadly, canoeing does not feature greatly amongst the displays.
CONTRIBUTED BY: Chris Wheeler.